International Women’s Day
You might have missed that today (March 8th) is International Women’s Day. The modern era IWD was instituted by the United Nations, and commemorates the women’s rights movements and the pursuit of equality.
Some people do not understand or care much for the significance of the day. There are those who believe the day is set aside to celebrate women for being women. They dismiss the day as a collection of radical feminists patting themselves on the back for possessing a vagina. After all, women are already equal, right?
Let anyone who doubts that there are still places in the world where women are oppressed, mistreated and abused as a matter-of-course cast their eyes towards places such as Saudi Arabia. The struggle for equality should not be considered only within the confines of arbitrary borders.
Furthermore, IWD isn’t about celebrating women for being women. It’s far more than recognition of anatomy and gender identity. Each day has a theme. For example, the 2007 International Women’s Day focused on ending impunity for violence against women and girls. This year’s theme is about women’s place in the changing world of work. The idea is not to elevate women to a grand position in the world but to inspire women, and wider society, to engage and discuss as we work towards an equal future.
International Men’s Day
However, the immediate cries from certain sections of society are that International Women’s Day is sexist and unequal. After all, there is no male equivalent; except there is.
Although not organised by the United Nations, International Men’s Day is indeed a thing. If you hop over to comedian Richard Herring’s Twitter account, you’ll see one of the social media platform’s annual traditions – Richard Herring informing people that International Men’s Day is November 19th.
IMD serves a noble purpose in its own right. It highlights important matters such as the often under-recognised issue of unreported sexual violence against men and boys. International Men’s Day seeks to improve gender relations, address gender imbalance and highlight positive male role-models. Like IWD, International Men’s Day also has a yearly theme. In 2016, that theme was highlighting the issue of the horrifically high male suicide rate. UNESCO members have lent their support to International Men’s Day because it is a good thing.
“So Why Don’t We Know About It?”
Type into Google the words “International Men’s Day”, and you’ll be given the date as the first result. If you’re able to complain on Twitter that there is no IMD, then you’re also able to discover that you’re wrong. By reading this, you’ve proven that you have access to the single greatest information resource ever devised (that would be the Internet, not my website). There is no real excuse, is there?
There are lots of internationally recognised observance days. We only tend to know about the ones we personally wish to acknowledge. I doubt many are aware that March 21st is International Puppetry Day, that April 26th is World Intellectual Property Day or that July 2nd is World UFO Day. Wikipedia maintains a (possibly incomplete) list of international observances. People are generally aware of the handful for which they give a hoot. If you don’t know International Men’s Day exists, and are too lazy to check, it indicates you don’t really care in the first place.
Often, those who decry the alleged lack of a day for men do so not because they’re truly bothered, but because they’re trying to score political points with others of a like mind. The very existence of International Women’s Day challenges some people’s rigid views about the world in a manner that makes them uncomfortable. Their response becomes an admission that they have no real interest in a Men’s Day, but they damn sure want to take away the Women’s one. I’m sure they believe the entire day is nothing but the result of the malevolent Political Correctness machine.
International Men’s Day raises and highlights important issues and deserves recognition. Instead, its alleged non-existence is trotted out as an attack against International Women’s Day. Both days are valid because both days promote tolerance. It’s something the world could use a lot more of, at times – so please mark November 16th on your calendar as it’s International Day for Tolerance.